I’m not like your high school boyfriend who heard that phrase in a romantic comedy and repeated it to you just days before taking your best friend to prom. I really mean it. Everything is me. You are wonderful. You are careful with me. You are kind.
I sit, every minute of every day, with the knowledge that I may not be able to have a family, and that even if I am able to have a family through adoption, I may not ever be pregnant, carry a pregnancy to term, give birth, glow, hurt, heal. There are moments, brief and beautiful moments, when I am so in love with my life that I forget about infertility and I feel actual joy. Those moments never happen around you. I can’t forget around you. Back when I had hope, I could find excitement in your growing belly and happy plans. Now, I just don’t know how to.
Most of the time, I am walking around in one of two states of emotion–both distant from my pre-infertility emotional self, both distant from joy. One of those states is a disconnect. Disconnection from my emotions is how I live through this; it’s how I get through every day. I want to compare it to wearing a bandaid to protect a scab, but it’s not quite like that. It’s more like a helmet covering a thin layer of flesh over an otherwise raw and exposed bundle of nerves, delicate and tender and requiring care and protection. I can talk about what I’m feeling while I’m not actually feeling the emotions. It’s the closest I get to being able to share what I feel with others.
Then, when the helmet comes off, it is not pretty. That is the other emotional state I sometimes find myself in, filled with intensity uncommon in my adult life, feeling emotions that make me uncomfortable and unrecognizable to myself. Anger, jealousy, hurt, resentment, despair, loss. I prefer to experience those alone. Which is lonely.
I don’t know how to engage with you, my dear friend, the way I used to. With my helmet on so tightly, how can I connect with you during this most important time of your life? With my helmet on so tightly, I feel like everything I say is a lie. But, with my helmet off, there’s nothing about me you’ll want to be around and there’s nothing about me that is comfortable for me to show around you. It cannot come off.
So, I miss you. Each time a friend begins to “try” I withdraw a bit more. When they succeed I become a little more alone. Over three years of this, the losses have accumulated and I have steeled myself for them a little better each time, faking it with a bit more success. I don’t want your happiness to feel like a loss to me, but it is. At least for now.
I read constantly that it is impossible to get through this without losing girlfriends, but I really don’t want to give in to that. In my lowest moments I see how infertility might take away everything. In my better moments, I hold out hope that when I come through this I will still be loved and able to give love.